By Bingo Barnes
You won’t find this cocktail at any bar in town. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a recipe for it or someone daring enough to drink it, but it warrants mention as the drink rapidly approaches its 15-year anniversary On November 21, 1991 an episode of The Simpsons aired in which Homer, unable to find a beer while being forced to watch his sister-in-laws’ vacation slides, mixed together a bunch of liquor and one secret ingredient: cough syrup. When one sister-in-law accidentally dropped cigarette ash into the concoction it went up like Bananas Foster and voila, the Flaming Homer was born. The drink was stolen by Moe the bartender who renamed it the Flaming Moe, promoted it, and earned temporary fame and fortune because of it, ruining his friendship with Homer who revealed the secret ingredient at an Aerosmith concert in Moe’s Tavern.
So how do you make a Flaming Moe? Soon after the episode aired, some Finnish bartenders devised a recipe based on the fictional drink. The cocktail, called Salmiakki Koskenkorva, or Salmari for short, is made with a Finnish vodka flavored with ground-up salty licorice candy named Turkish Pepper. This candy contains ammonium chloride, giving the cocktail a black licorice and cough medicine taste. It has the unique side effect of stimulating the salivary glands, an effect similar to Homer’s ability to immediately drool around anything appetizing. The Salmari cocktail had its heyday in the 1990s, creating somewhat of a cocktail revolution in Finland at the time. Today it is apparently still a popular drink for tourists.
While Finland’s recreation of the Flaming Moe might taste like cough syrup, the concoction called Purple Drank allegedly contains actual prescription cough syrup and lemon-lime soda or fruit juice. It has no ties to the original Flaming Moe as far as we can tell.